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Whitehead voices gratitude to Texas pastors for their support of Midwestern Seminary

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Participation by key Southern Baptist pastors from Texas in chapel services of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has prompted expressions of appreciation for their support of the Kansas City-based school and the SBC Cooperative Program.

“I’m grateful for pastors who stood up and said truth really does matter and we’re going to tell the truth about what good is going on in our seminaries and denomination,” declared interim President Michael Whitehead while introducing speaker Prestonwood Baptist Church pastor Jack Graham of Plano, Texas, Oct. 3.

Graham, who serves on the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, encouraged the use of strongly stated wording in a Sept. 19 resolution asking Baptist General Convention of Texas messengers to reject a proposed “unilateral breach” in the state’s support of SBC missions and ministries. BGCT leaders have recommended the redirecting of more than $5 million in Cooperative Program receipts from churches from the SBC to seminaries within Texas. Midwestern Seminary stands to lose more than $400,000 in funding from the BGCT plan.

During the Executive Committee deliberation Sept. 18, Graham said “a campaign of misinformation [is] going on in Texas,” while SBC supporters in the state lack a “strong voice of getting to the churches” information about the vibrancy and effectiveness of Southern Baptist outreach across the country and around the world. Once they are aware, Graham said, “Texas Baptists will rally to support the SBC.”

The Midwestern chapel audience applauded Graham’s stand after Whitehead praised Graham and others who have spoken out regarding the BGCT proposal. “I urge our churches to take stands based on truth and not on politics, not just on peace, but on the truth of God’s Word, and what goes on in our institutions to proclaim God’s truth.”

Whitehead acknowledged his frustration that the 102-page report of the BGCT theological education study committee often reported allegations without including the responses of the seminaries. “It’s sometimes hard to get the message to trickle down to the grassroots about what the facts are,” Whitehead said, recommending a new Internet site at www.baptist2baptist.net as a source of information on the responses of Southern Baptist seminaries and other entities to the Texas proposal.

“We’re not going to try to answer every jot and tittle” of the allegations, Whitehead said. It seems to me that they reached the same conclusion at the end of their report as they had when they began their report. The facts didn’t confuse them about the purpose they sought to accomplish,” he added.

Whitehead praised the spirit of unity in the Executive Committee, stating, “If some individual or organization decides to attack our seminaries, they’ve attacked all of us. The nature of the Cooperative Program is that we are family and we believe the best way to do ministry worldwide is to stick together as a family.”

Reflecting on recent meetings with Executive Committee members in Nashville, Tenn., and Texas associational directors of missions in Fort Worth, Whitehead said Graham and other Executive Committee members expressed “enormous esprit de corps” in their “wholehearted, unequivocal support and commitment to Midwestern Seminary and the five other seminaries.” He praised their assurance that the seminaries “will not suffer harm as a result of the political controversy.” Adding that God would provide all of the needs of Midwestern Seminary, Whitehead urged students to pray for “peace within the convention, clarity of thinking and truthfulness in our communication” as Baptist churches make difficult decisions.

While some pastors and churches have tried, “keeping peace and harmony by just not talking about the problems,” Whitehead expressed appreciation for pastors who have indicated that “truth really does matter” as they seek to inform Southern Baptists of the effective use of Cooperative Program funds around the world.

Graham told Midwestern students and faculty, “I can assure you that by the hand and blessing of God the churches in Texas will continue to support all of our seminaries. We will find a way to accomplish that.” Describing himself as a proud Texan, Graham said, “I’m disappointed in the arrogance of some Texas Baptists who would only desire to take care of Texas Baptist students and ministries rather than seeing the big picture and the needs of the world.”

Adding, “Our regionalism must not ever supplant our national and international understanding,” Graham said, “What we’re about is to be a world Christian — a denomination and convention of churches committed to the world.”

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  • Tammi Reed Ledbetter